Former queens gathered onstage for Bb. Pilipinas 2013 (image courtesy of

A golden anniversary is a major milestone for anyone, be it a person, a married couple, or an institution.  This year, Bb. Pilipinas is marking that milestone, and with the help of ABS-CBN it planned to deliver a grandiose extravaganza to commemorate it.  Did the coronation night deliver on that promise?

The event was hosted by veteran host / singer Martin Nievera, who to open the proceedings sang the well-known Bb. Pilipinas theme as around 60 previous Bb. Pilipinas titleholders from various eras descended from the stage, from the most recent decade from 2004 to 2011 then going back until the 1963-1972 era was reached.  Given a solo highlight was the first international winner handled by this organization, Miss Universe 1969, Gloria Diaz.

Martin Nievera serenading Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz (image courtesy of Voltaire Domingo for NPPA images)

After the well-applauded glamorous parade of queens, the 50 candidates then came dressed in flesh-colored jersey mini-dresses draped with sheer pink overlay for a Grecian effect and kept the energy explosive at the Araneta as they vamped about and then introduced themselves to the warmly enthused audience.  Then, as is tradition, came the three reigning queens from 2012 to end the opening number.

Like Grecian nymphs: the 50 candidates vamping about
The three reigning queens: Miss International 2012 semifinalist Nicole Schmitz, Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon, and Bb. Pilipinas Tourism 2012 Katrina Jayne Dimaranan (image courtesy of Voltaire Domingo for NPPA images)

Co-hosting the proceedings was resurgent actress Dawn Zulueta.  She and Martin made an excellent hosting team, delivering their spiels with competence and professionalism but with the appropriate enthusiastic energy that was the model that all other hosts should follow.  Martin, it should be noted, has the extraordinary skill of sounding as if he was memorizing his lines from the top of his head or speaking impromptu even while reading his lines from a teleprompter.  Dawn may rely on cue cards from time to time, but she was still at the top of her game in her hosting.  With such top-notch skills, the gaffe that Martin committed later in the evening where he missed out on one of the Top 15 semifinalists in the Q&A round was rendered forgivable.

Hosts Martin Nievera and Dawn Zulueta

Providing color commentary to the proceedings were the two previous Miss Universe runners-up for this decade, Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup.  They generally followed the Jeannie Mai model of color commentary, generally pleasant, bubbly, and perky in their spiels, and generally competent, too.  They also interviewed past queens in various segments, which was a treat to watch.

Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup and Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj (image courtesy of

The rest of the program followed the structure employed over the past decade–all 50 candidates paraded in swimsuits in two groups and then in evening gowns from the Cumbia boutique, and then the semifinalists (15 this year) were selected for the final Q&A round with questions posed by the judges.  As befitting the “gold” theme, the swimsuits were glittery silver-sequined yellow one-shoulder bikinis for this year, and onstage I finally got to see the ladies figures in full and there were some (who didn’t make the cut, fortunately) who were obviously out-of-shape…  The evening gown round treated us to varying colors and this year there is no organized color scheme.  The ladies were also serenaded by some of the hunkier members of the ABS-CBN talent pool, like Sam Milby, Sam Concepcion, Matteo Guidicelli, and last year’s host Xian Lim, with “popera” artist Joseph Badon, all singing the romantic Smokey Mountain chestnut “Kailan” (“When?”).   Though efforts are made to make the two major rounds fast-paced, it’s still a bit taxing to the casual viewer to watch 50 candidates all parade onstage–for enthusiastic pageant fans of course, it would be a different story.

Hunky serenade: Sam Concepcion, Sam Milby, Xian Lim, and Matteo Guidicelli (image courtesy of

When the Top 15 was announced there was one key favorite who missed the cut altogether: Candidate No. 1, Ria Rabajante.  Though she was competitive in the swimsuit round, when she appeared in a dated, too-shiny beaded red satin number, pageant fans and pundits have felt that her final screening thunder has indeed totally dissipated.  Hopefully she gets luckier if she decides to compete in this pageant again in subsequent years.

Ruth Ocumarez awardee, Bb. Pilipinas 2013 edition: Ria Rabajante

Normally, the first set of special awards were given out during the swimsuit competition, but this year it was announced after the opening number.  Creatures of habit probably anticipated that this year there might be a second and third round of special awards, but it turns out they skipped the awarding after the swimsuit round and gave the second set after the evening gown competition as is customary.  I shall now pay tribute to the non-finalists who got the consolation of being special awardees, starting with…

BB. FRIENDSHIP:  CANDIDATE NO. 21 – Lourenz Grace Remetillo.  I have to say this is a nice consolation for this lady, as she is unlikely to be granted the Bb. Pilipinas Supranational title as she previously competed in that pageant, and her features are too exotic for the judges’ liking.

BB. TALENT:  CANDIDATE NO. 10 – Anna Carmela Aquino.  My friend and colleague Norman Tinio may have expected it would go to an Aces & Queens-groomed singer, it turns out it went to this lady instead, who performed an Igorot dance with multiple pots on her head.  I suppose the judges of the talent contest seemed impressed with the degree of difficulty of that feat that was why they rewarded this lady with the honor.

BB. BEST IN NATIONAL COSTUME – Maria Teresita Alaine Baccay.  Actually this award was previously announced last week during the primer.  I previously mentioned that I disagreed with the choice, but well, the judges have chosen so there.

BB. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES – CANDIDATE NO. 4 – Nicole Kim Donesa.  Normally the sponsor’s prizes would go to one of the perceived favorites, so this lady’s win is rather surprising.  But then again, the sponsor probably found her girl-next-door appeal welcoming and befitting their brand that is why they granted the title to her.

All images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for Bb. Pilipinas, and Melvin Sia and Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.



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